Branding is the basis for the way any audience will view your credit union, but how do you know if your brand is working? Here’s a checklist to evaluate your own brand, or brand ideas.
Is it yours? While a swipe file is always a good thing for coming up with ad ideas, and it’s okay to base your campaign on something you’ve seen another credit union or another organization use successfully, you don’t want to copy someone else’s branding strategy. A brand, like a personality, is all about identifying what you already are, not finding what “works” in branding for a different market or industry and copying it. If you can’t originate, don’t imitate.
Is it clear? People need to be clear about your branding message from the moment they come into contact with it. From the logo to the collateral, you must communicate an instantly understandable message. Test your own branding by showing your marketing materials and logo to a total stranger and see if that stranger gets the message about who you are and what your credit union is all about.
Does it reflect reality? Branding is more about identity than image. What does your credit union already represent to members? By focusing on what you are, rather than what you’d like to be or how you’d like to be seen, you’ll hit on a branding message employees will buy into instantly. When your credit union doesn’t or can’t deliver on the promise implicit in your branding message, that message becomes a strike against you.
Ask members why they use the credit union and how they perceive it, and base your branding message on that reality.
Is it consistent? Once you’ve established a clear, meaningful message; repeat it. And repeat it. And then repeat it again. Your brand is not just a logo and letterhead, but it also includes the way your employees greet members, the way the lobby is set up and other intangibles. Branding goes beyond the marketing department. It’s an HR issue, an IT issue and an issue for every department. That’s why buy-in across the board is so vital to successful branding.
Is it recognizable? If you’re saying what everyone else is saying (i.e., Great rates! Great service!) your brand will be lost in the crowd. Make it a one-of-a-kind statement that reflects who your credit union is so your members and others will recognize it after as little as two or three exposures. If your brand is a true reflection of your credit union, it should be recognizable without much effort. Consistency, clarity and repetition all build recognition.
Is it actionable? The whole point of branding is to drive action. That action should be built into the message: Join the Credit Union, Make ABC FCU your primary financial partner, etc. Make the message revolve around member self-interest and then ask for the action you want them to take.